The Washington Post
February 1, 2000
Back Channels: The Intelligence CommunityBy Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
In its zeal to crack down on Chinese espionage last year at the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons laboratories, Congress passed legislation creating fines of up to $100,000 for anyone mishandling classified or "sensitive information."
There's only one problem: There's no such thing as "sensitive information" under the Atomic Energy Act. So says Mary Anne Sullivan, DOE's general counsel, who issued a memo to department heads and lab directors last month stating that the new fines won't be imposed until the term "sensitive information" is defined.
"So, in order to justify the new penalty," said the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood, "a new crime will have to be created."